Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Community Safety and Community Justice - the Thames Valley Partnership's Journey, 1993 - 2008

Academic journal article British Journal of Community Justice

Community Safety and Community Justice - the Thames Valley Partnership's Journey, 1993 - 2008

Article excerpt

Abstract

The Thames Valley Partnership held a conference on 18th March, 2008, to celebrate the work of its retiring Chief Executive, Sue Raikes, and to review the Partnership's experience over the 15 years of its existence and the twelve years during which Sue Raikes had been Chief Executive. About 35 people were present, from a wide range of backgrounds including representatives of national organisations and central government, most of whom were working with the Partnership in one capacity or another or had done so previously. The title 'The Journey' was intended to convey a sense of the movement and progress which had taken place over that period, and to look forward as well as to the past.

This paper records and reflects on the main points which were made at the conference and in subsequent discussion. Information about the Partnership, its work, its people and the projects and programmes mentioned in the paper, together with most of its publications, is available on its website www.thamesvalleypartnership.org.u

Key Words: Arts, Brokerage, Community Engagement, Innovation, Local Empowerment, Partnership, Restoration

Origins of the Thames Valley Partnership

The Thames Valley Partnership was formed in 1993, at the instigation of Charles (now Sir Charles) Pollard, the Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police. Its original purpose was to co-ordinate and stimulate the local services' responses to crime and their efforts to promote community safety. The need for local as well as national co-ordination had become clear from the attempts which had been made during the 1980s to manage the criminal justice system as a whole and to develop inter-agency, community-based programmes to reduce crime and increase public confidence. Much of the effort, then as now, was directed towards more effective management of the criminal justice system itself - police, prosecution, courts, prisons and probation and the interactions between them. But preventive work and the importance of partnerships with services outside the criminal justice system, such as health and education, began to receive increasing attention. Examples included the formation of the new national voluntary organisation Crime Concern, the 'Safer Cities' programmes in certain large towns, and in the Morgan report on Safer Communities (Morgan, 1991), published in 1991 although its recommendations were not fully acted upon until the Crime and Disorder Act, 1998 (Faulkner, 2006).

Some of the functions originally intended for the Partnership were later taken over by other bodies, especially the government- sponsored local criminal justice committees and community safety partnerships which have now become Local Criminal Justice Boards (LCJBs) and Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs). But the Partnership found an increasing role for itself- and an increasing appreciation of that role - in identifying needs, exploring possibilities, finding opportunities, making connections, generating ideas, and brokering those ideas so that statutory services and voluntary and community organisations could put them into practice. The role was related to several features of modern life - the changing fabric of social life and social conditions in modern Britain, the increasing complexity of relationships between agencies, and the intense pressure under which public services now have to operate.

The Partnership has always worked from a set of beliefs which are founded partly on its social values and partly on its own practical experience. They are essentially that:

* People and relationships count for more than structures and processes.

* Everyone deserves respect and is of equal value as a human being - no -one should ever be seen as beyond hope.

* What happens in childhood can have a profound effect later on, often from one generation to the next.

* The best and most realistic hope for reducing crime and its consequences is with families and communities. …

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